Concept 20, KEF LS50 - Still good in 2018? Upgrade help!!

svn1986

Novice Member
I m looking for some help in deciding on my next speakers from audiophiles/ users who have been in the same boat as me before.

Currently looking to upgrade from my Q Acoustics 3020.
I like the detail on this but find that it lacks the punch in the mids also feel the instrument separation and soundstage could be better . I have a 14x18ft room with 12 feet ceiling. Not sure if the power on these are sufficient.

No I don't have a stand yet but intend on adding it .

My AV receiver is a modest Onkyo NR555 , yes no pre-outs. Didn't know much about AV when I started so the choice of the receiver. Some day might upgrade to a Denon or Marantz. For now not looking to change the receiver as I m hoping better speakers can improve on the sound.

My sources are pretty much digital - Tidal and Apple music. It's purely for convenience I have gone this way as I have stopped ripping audio from CDs.
I use my set up pretty much for 70 % Music and rest for TV and movies. I listen to genres like classical, instrumental, pop - mainly music with lot of vocals but stay away from heavy metal , rock and roll kind of music.
Instrument separation is key to me.

Budget is under £500 but would like it ideally keep to £300 so that I can add a sub later if I wish to. After doing some research online i have shortlisted these.

Q Acoustics Concept 20 -£279 (used could be £200)
KEF LS50 (will go for used one ) -£500
ELAC Debut B6 - £250-£300
Q Acoustics 3050 - £300-£350

Both Concept 20 and LS50 are 5 years old. Does it really matter how old the technology is if you like the sound?

How much of an upgrade is LS50 over Concept 20 really as it is 3 times the price?

Is B6 even an upgrade over 3020 as few forums say it just adds more bass ?

Are the 3050s better than the above , because I don't really need a floor stander for the looks or the added bass if I am not getting an improvement in all other areas.

Appreciate your help. Thanks.
 

dollag

Well-known Member
How many speakers are you using? do you have a 5.1 set up or just using 2 speakers?

also, how are the speakers placed? on stands? on a shelf? are they close to walls?

both speakers are still great by todays standards but honestly so are the 3020's so i personally do not think they are the problem
 

svn1986

Novice Member
Thanks for your reply.

Just the 2.0 set up now.
As I mentioned , I haven't yet got a stand for it . Placed on the TV stand for now. They are 1 feet from the wall behind, 0.5 feet from side walls and 2 feet apart from each other. The side wall distance is not ideal but didn't have provision in other places due to lack of stand. I intend to add a stand very soon.

Seating position is about 9-10 feet from the speaker.
Carpeted floor. Ceiling is 11-12 ft.
I have to turn the volume to 50 to hear decent sound.

You think it is the speaker placement is it ?
Having said that do you believe I won't get any step up in sound if I upgrade to better speaker?

I must admit I am still a novice when it comes to audio. After owning Harman Kardon Soundsticks for my pc set up this is the first decent system I have
 

dollag

Well-known Member
Ideally you’d want to create a triangular arrangment with you and your speakers. Being 10 feet away with the speakers 2 feet apart will not create a great soundstage and lack in clarity. Also depending on your cabinet, resonance could also be creating muddyness to the sound. Ideally you want them isolated. Also the 3020 are quite light on the bass department and would benefit from an additional subwoofer.

Avrs are also not the best for music and can sound quite flat compared to a decent stereo amplifier. It really boils down what’s more important music or movies. If your planning on a full surround then that’s fine; however if your only going to use it in a 2.0 config, your better off with a dedicated stereo amplifier. This can still be used for tv and trump most sound bars

The ls50’s require a lot of power to drive them and personally from experience would not recommend using an avr on them unless there is additional amplification. In your case this is not viable.
 

svn1986

Novice Member
Thanks for precise points there. Really appreciate that.

Ideally I only want a 2.1 system to start with. Music is definitely the first priority. I may expand to surround sound later. Or might just add a Dolby Atmos Soundbar for convenience for use with TV /Movies. Not as fussed with getting accurate surround sound as I am with getting good stereo sound for music.

I didn't think you could connect a stereo amplifier to TV.
Do they come with hdmi ports?
Is it possible to connect a subwoofer to stereo amplifier?
My existing AVR doesn't have any pre-outs so is it useless then if I add a stereo amplifier and connect it to my speakers?
 

dollag

Well-known Member
I didn't think you could connect a stereo amplifier to TV.
Yes you can. your tv will have an optical out which can be used to connect to a stereo amplifier either directly if has a built in dac, or an external one may be needed but are peanuts circa £5

Do they come with hdmi ports?
a handful but that's pretty rare

Is it possible to connect a subwoofer to stereo amplifier?
Yes, some come with a dedicated subwoofer out but if not, they can be connected via speaker level inputs.

My existing AVR doesn't have any pre-outs so is it useless then if I add a stereo amplifier and connect it to my speakers?
unfortunately yes.

To be honest a decent 2.1 will trump any soundbar if done right and a lot of people (myself included) watch most of my tv viewing in 2.1
 

gibbsy

Moderator
More going on in your room than the lack of speaker performance. As dollag has pointed out your speakers are far far too close together. Get the separation of those speakers better and on stands and the sound will improve.

Stereo amplifiers with their own DAC usually have a digital optical input that you can connect a TV to, some will also have an RCA output for sub woofer connection.

As far as the speakers you've mentioned and as good as the KEF LS50s, the best by far on that list, your present AVR will not do them justice as they are a power hungry speaker.
 

svn1986

Novice Member
I didn't think you could connect a stereo amplifier to TV.
Yes you can. your tv will have an optical out which can be used to connect to a stereo amplifier either directly if has a built in dac, or an external one may be needed but are peanuts circa £5

Do they come with hdmi ports?
a handful but that's pretty rare

Is it possible to connect a subwoofer to stereo amplifier?
Yes, some come with a dedicated subwoofer out but if not, they can be connected via speaker level inputs.

My existing AVR doesn't have any pre-outs so is it useless then if I add a stereo amplifier and connect it to my speakers?
unfortunately yes.

To be honest a decent 2.1 will trump any soundbar if done right and a lot of people (myself included) watch most of my tv viewing in 2.1
Ok agree with all points but how do I get network connectivity on the stereo amplifier? Do they have WiFi in them?

I so want to use my music from NAS , Tidal and Apple Music.
 

dollag

Well-known Member
There are numerous ways to do this; however depends on budget.

1) chromecast audio (cca) is a £30 device that will connect to any stereo amplifier with a 3.5mm to rca cable. it has a decent dac and will play all files over the wifi including lossless and hi res.

2) yamaha wxc-50 is a dedicated streamer and preamp at £230. has an optical input for the tv, an analogue input for a cd player/turntable etc and is fully dlna compliant, airplay spotify etc. has a good dac and as this is a preamp, it also will control the whole system ie volume. all you would need to add is a power amplifier or better yet, a pair of powered monitors. it also has a dedicated sub-out

Yamaha WXC-50

3) an all in one unit like this - Yamaha RN602 Networked Stereo Receiver - Superfi
 

svn1986

Novice Member
Thanks dollag.

I have a Chromecast Audio with me which I could use.
With pc I connected this to 3.5mm jack and output from Chromecast to speakers via another 3.5mm jack which I don't suppose I need to do? As the speakers connect to the stereo amp directly ?

What I am wondering is , is Chromecast Audio just an input device to do the wireless transfer of digital file into the amp or is it going to output to speakers??

This will solve the network problem though..
I can probably get my hands on Monitor Audio A100 cheaply but is that any good compared to the devices you have listed?
 

dollag

Well-known Member
A chromecast audio will be on your home network and read files off your server/nas etc over the wifi. This is then fed into an amplifier via a 3.5mm to rca to an amplifier. A MA A100 is an integrated amplifier and is perfect for this scenario. and also has an optical for your tv. Airplay is also very handy as you can stream directly from apple devices.

Its a decent amplifier but depending on price, there are better ones out there. It really does come down to budget. how much can you get hold of one for?
 

svn1986

Novice Member
That sounds good. Add to that list a subwoofer output as well on the amp.

I can get one for about £60-80. Is that a decent price ?

I did read about Onkyo 9010, Marantz Pm6005 etc - how much better are they than MA A100?
 

svn1986

Novice Member
Another thing I just remembered - how does the sound work for other sources ? Let's say I have firestick or shield connected to an Hdmi port on TV. TV has ARC. Does the stereo amp need to have ARC to play the sound ?

The choice just got a bit more complicated !
 

dollag

Well-known Member
Thats a difficult question to answer. the pm600x is a great amplifier due to it's power suppl cambridge audio also do some great amplifiers and if your open to s/h can be picked up at a decent price on ebay.

no.

lets say your amplifier has 4 inputs (aux 1,2,3, cd, phono etc) and the tv is plugged into input 2 on the amplifier. it just needs to be selected input 2. input 1 could be the chromecast. input 3 could be a cd player or pc. hopefully you get the picture.

arc is just a return channel meaning that sound can move in both directions to and from your tv. with an optical out, whatever is coming from the tv will be sent to the amplifier.

right now my second system has a pair of active speakers and a sub running from my sonica streamer. my tv is plugged directly into the streamer via an optical cable and whatever i am watching be it tv, plex or youtube on my tv, it comes through my 2.1 system
 

svn1986

Novice Member
Thanks dollag.

Yea I am open to s/h definitely !

With regards to multiple input I see what you mean but think of a scenario like this. Normal TV to stereo amp via optical , ok works great. Say I connect a shield or PS3 to TV via hdmi. I switch to the correct hdmi. I should have already connected another set of input from shield to stereo amp . Now, as you suggested , I need to switch the source on the amp to the right input for the sound to work. Feels like a lot of faffing about for non-techies in the house isn't it? Misus won't be happy I think !

I feel I will miss the flexibility of having an AVR and connecting everything to one system.

So the best way for me is to get an AVR with pre outs and connect that to the stereo amp in the future. Isnr it? With that set up I get best of both worlds. Route stereo to amp and if it's surround I guess AVR will do its thingy?

Does it make sense?
 

dollag

Well-known Member
Thanks dollag.

Yea I am open to s/h definitely !

With regards to multiple input I see what you mean but think of a scenario like this. Normal TV to stereo amp via optical , ok works great. Say I connect a shield or PS3 to TV via hdmi. I switch to the correct hdmi. I should have already connected another set of input from shield to stereo amp . Now, as you suggested , I need to switch the source on the amp to the right input for the sound to work. Feels like a lot of faffing about for non-techies in the house isn't it? Misus won't be happy I think !

I feel I will miss the flexibility of having an AVR and connecting everything to one system.

So the best way for me is to get an AVR with pre outs and connect that to the stereo amp in the future. Isnr it? With that set up I get best of both worlds. Route stereo to amp and if it's surround I guess AVR will do its thingy?

Does it make sense?

No,

regardless what hdmi input is on the tv, or if your using your tv's smart system, it will come through the stereo. the only time you would need to change the input on the amp is if you wanted to use say the cca or another input. turn the amp on, sound will come out whatever is on the TV.

there are 2 things you can do with an avr with pre-outs. adding a power amp or an integrated stereo amplifier

a power amplifier will just help with headrtoom and power/ it will not impact on the sound quality.

regarding integrating a stereo amplifier with an avr is very easy as long as the stereo amplifier has h/t bypass, but again, this will need to be selected when using the avr otherwise no sound will come out the l&r speakers. from a wife's position, i'd argue its more of a faff than a simple stereo amplifier
 

svn1986

Novice Member
Thanks dollag.
Interesting points about AVR with preouts being more tricky but one question on former.
What did you mean by TVs smart system?

I meant what if I don't use TVs smart system say I am not using an app on smart TV and use an external source. Let's a blu ray player which has an Hdmi connected to TV. What about audio from blu ray ? I have to connect an audio cable to stereo amp from blu ray. How does stereo amp know that it now needs to switch from input 1 digital(TV) to input 2 rca(blu ray) for example unless I change it manually ? I understand TV may be smart how is the stereo amp smart in this case ?

On speaker placement Ihave uploaded the image of speakers for reference .I am sure you will point out that both speakers are very close to walls on this side . And by the way they are about 3.5 feet from each other..
 

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gibbsy

Moderator
All stereo amps and receivers have to be manually instructed as to what input to use. Whether or not they can be controlled by an amp is model dependent but even then the user has to instruct the app what to do. An app is just more convient for a lot of people as opposed to having half a dozen remotes hanging around. I'm a Luddite as far as apps are concerned and fall into the latter category.

Yes those speakers are pushed into corners and far too close to walls and each other. Being on a cabinet is fine, mine are mounted on a cabinet, as long as they have good isolation pads or feet under them. In all honesty that position is highly compromised.

It also looks as though those speakers, which are really rather good ones, are pushed back a little from the front of the cabinet. Bring them forward so that the front of them is sitting proud of the shelf by around an inch.

Years ago my room looked like that with a fireplace. It was easily solved by the application of a sledge hammer and then a plasterer to give a flush smooth wall. Now a nice centrally mounted TV. There is a cure for everything.:thumbsup:
 

dollag

Well-known Member
Thanks dollag.
Interesting points about AVR with preouts being more tricky but one question on former.
What did you mean by TVs smart system?

I meant what if I don't use TVs smart system say I am not using an app on smart TV and use an external source. Let's a blu ray player which has an Hdmi connected to TV. What about audio from blu ray ? I have to connect an audio cable to stereo amp from blu ray. How does stereo amp know that it now needs to switch from input 1 digital(TV) to input 2 rca(blu ray) for example unless I change it manually ? I understand TV may be smart how is the stereo amp smart in this case ?
the blue ray player would not be connected to the amplifier at all. the blue ray player would be connected to the tv say hdmi 1, your shield hdmi 2 etc. an optical from your tv would go to the amplifier say input 1. as long as the input 1 is selected on the amplifier, all sources from the tv will go directly to the amp. if you choose hdmi 1,2,3 or 4 it doesnt matter.
 
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dollag

Well-known Member
tthe location of the speakers are not ideal and are not isolated from the unit.

IsoAcoustics ISO 130 Stands, Pair at Gear4music

a pair of these would isolate the speaker and give some additional height on the unit so they are ear level. can you change layout at all?
 
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svn1986

Novice Member
All stereo amps and receivers have to be manually instructed as to what input to use. Whether or not they can be controlled by an amp is model dependent but even then the user has to instruct the app what to do. An app is just more convient for a lot of people as opposed to having half a dozen remotes hanging around. I'm a Luddite as far as apps are concerned and fall into the latter category.

Yes those speakers are pushed into corners and far too close to walls and each other. Being on a cabinet is fine, mine are mounted on a cabinet, as long as they have good isolation pads or feet under them. In all honesty that position is highly compromised.

It also looks as though those speakers, which are really rather good ones, are pushed back a little from the front of the cabinet. Bring them forward so that the front of them is sitting proud of the shelf by around an inch.

Years ago my room looked like that with a fireplace. It was easily solved by the application of a sledge hammer and then a plasterer to give a flush smooth wall. Now a nice centrally mounted TV. There is a cure for everything.:thumbsup:
Thanks gibbsy. Yes I must admit the positioning could be better .I am going to get a stand and place one on each side of fire place. With regards to fireplace I'd love to take it out someday once misus is convinced. That will take some time
 

svn1986

Novice Member
the blue ray player would not be connected to the amplifier at all. the blue ray player would be connected to the tv say hdmi 1, your shield hdmi 2 etc. an optical from your tv would go to the amplifier say input 1. as long as the input 1 is selected on the amplifier, all sources from the tv will go directly to the amp. if you choose hdmi 1,2,3 or 4 it doesnt matter.
Thanks dollag. I thought sound signal from blu ray to amp is necessary. Will give it a try.

With regards to isolation and placement, I am going to get hold of Atacama Stands soon but I still want to press on the point of 3020s not able to fill my room unless I push the volume up above 60 and also tend to sound a bit muddy. With placement perceived detail might improve but muddiness won't go away .Are the 5 inch drivers sufficient for the dimensions of my room - 14x16ft ?

I may sound crazy and stupid when I say this. Harman Kardon SoundSticks with pc had better midrange transparency and instrument separation. They were placed at a much higher position to seating with the included sub on the floor, room was much smaller though.

Getting a deal on Concept 20 & MA A100 for £250.
Concept 20s new are costing £279. Not a great deal for used but the ampw may be worth it. What do you think ?

With separates I hoped to improve on the sound but it's a lot harder to get it right and that's frustrating :(
 

Pokey800

Active Member
I m looking for some help in deciding on my next speakers from audiophiles/ users who have been in the same boat as me before.
Hi

Did you decide on what speakers to get?

I need to replace my stereo pair which are part of a 5.1 setup in my front room.

I was looking at the following:

Q Acoustics 3050
ELAC Debut B6
KEF Q350

I can't decide on which.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Hi

Did you decide on what speakers to get?

I need to replace my stereo pair which are part of a 5.1 setup in my front room.

I was looking at the following:

Q Acoustics 3050
ELAC Debut B6
KEF Q350

I can't decide on which.
It's always best policy to replace all the front three speakers so that they come from the same manufacturer and model range. This will help preserve the timbre across the front soundstage. It is not a rule written in stone but just best practice.
 

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